Every year, London Film Festival has a surprise screening and this year, it was Greta Gerwig's directorial debut, Lady Bird, that took the LFF masses by storm. And here's my review of the pulpy coming-of-age film.

Taking writing duties, as well as directing, Gerwig's debut is somewhat of a semi-autobiographical tale, telling the story of Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) - but she prefers to go as "Lady Bird" - as she navigates her final year of high school, in Sacramento, in 2002. She constantly clashes with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), and is dissatisfied with her life in the suburbs and its many limitations and has hopes of going to college in the East Coast - although, her aspirations there are perhaps a little unrealistic and financial stress only makes it all the more impossible a task. But this is of little worry to Christine, who is too preoccupied with her social life, relationships with boys and whatever the future may hold for her to notice.
On paper, we've seen this done to death countless times before. It's familiar territory and, for a directorial debut, it could have quickly become tired and conventional. However, Lady Bird is anything but. Gerwig's touch here is pulpy and unique and it makes for such a deeply stirring, and beautiful, coming-of-age story that bursts with fun and charm and, most importantly, rings true to life. With a runtime just over 90 minutes, this is a lean film and one that never wastes a breath - the script is tight and fizzing with such sharp, nuanced writing - and it doesn't hesitate in establishing its characters and getting to the meat of the story. What makes these people so relatable and likeable is just that: they're people. They're flawed, they're difficult, but they're endearing; we can empathise with Lady Bird and her youthful, fanciful thoughts - we've all been there. The film is tonally quite rocky and inconsistent, though, with scenes changing their entire mood in an instant. It's perhaps reflective of the realistic unpredictability of teenage spirit and tendencies to switch moods so rapidly but it can make the proceedings a little jarring at times.

Saoirse Ronan is sensational as our eponymous protagonist. She exudes such heart and punk; she's atypical to most typical coming-of-age heroines and has a rebellious, tough edge to her. But she's quirky too and she's flawed and Ronan plays this with such brilliance; she's a mixed bag of raw teenage emotion and the young actress delivers it with such conviction. But, more than that, there is a tender touch and endearing quality to what Ronan brings to Christine that makes this character, and performance, one that is instantly so emotionally grounded, heartfelt and memorable. She's matched by an equally as terrific Metcalf, who is an absolute knockout here. It's this mother-daughter relation with her and Ronan that is the pulsating heart of the film and it's effortlessly engrossing and Metcalf shines. We find ourselves so invested in their dynamic and it's both moving and beautiful to watch and, of course, the chemistry between the pair is palpable and electric. Lady Bird is an astounding piece of work. It's witty and charming, relatable and warm; Gerwig tells this story with such sincerity but such suave style too and it makes for such a richly satisfying, effervescent and so deeply moving experience and one that is just so fervently entertaining and enjoyable too. It's an explosion of style and ingenious and an exciting directorial debut from Gerwig.


LADY BIRD OPENS IN THE UK ON FEBRUARY 16TH, 2018.

VERDICT:
Lady Bird is a stunning coming-of-age film with deep sincerity and an effervescent punch but it's an even more impressive directorial debut from Greta Gerwig.


About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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